WANTAGH, Long Island (WABC) -- Police on Long Island have a new tactic for fighting drug crimes, and hope the public can help.
The Suffolk County Police Commissioner said the drug problem has reached epidemic proportions, and that he is determined to take on the problem head-on with a new approach.
The county is establishing a hotline number for residents to call to report suspected drug dealing in their neighborhoods.
The commissioner is convinced that if a breakthrough can be made, it's going to come from the streets and neighborhoods where drug dealing and drug use often take place.
Police are also restructuring how the department responds to drug tips and how they're being prioritized.
In addition, they are taking a hard look at cases where people died of drug overdoses, making efforts to track down the dealers in those cases.
But the commissioner insists the success of his initiative begins with the public.
"The number will be staffed 24/7. A member of the public calls the number, and he or she can remain anonymous if he or she chooses," said Commissioner Timothy Sini. "The caller will be asked a series of questions about the drug activity. A member of our criminal intelligence section will decide where that complaint goes, whether it goes to the precinct level or goes to a narcotics section in headquarters."
Outreach organizations are praising the initiative because the suburban drug trade has changed, with a lot of drug dealing going on behind closed doors and out of public view.